November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

University Closed for Thanksgiving Holiday

The University will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

REMINDER: The 2007-2008 TAMIU Holiday Schedule can be accessed at http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/holiday.shtml.


  Employees Reminded To Update Emergency Contact Info

Employees are reminded to review and update their emergency contact information annually to ensure the University or emergency personnel can notify family members, in case of an emergency .  To review and/or update your emergency contact info, log on Single Sign On, go into HRConnect, choose Personal Data, and then select "Edit/Update My Emergency Contact Information." Once the information has been changed, click on "Update My Record." If you have any questions, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.



Faculty Senate for FY 2007-2008

The Faculty Senate is an elected senate that represents all academic areas of Texas A&M International University and that is dedicated to the well-being of the University faculty and of the University in general. The Senate strives to identify issues and concerns that have an impact on the members of the University faculty. By working closely with University administration, the Faculty Senate maintains the Faculty Handbook, a document containing policies and governance information related to faculty.

The 2007-2008 Faculty Senate Officers are listed below. For more information about the Faculty Senate and its activities, please contact one of the Officers.

  • President: Dr. Thomas R. Mitchell, COAS, Language and Literature
  • Vice-President: Dr. Deborah Blackwell, COAS, Social Sciences, At-Large
  • Secretary: Dr. Barbara Hong, COED, Professional Programs
  • Parliamentarian & Elections Officer: Dr. Ken Tobin, COAS, Biology & Chemistry




Administrative Advisory Council (AAC) for FY 2005-2006

The Administrative Advisory Council (AAC) is proud to announce its Officers for the 2007-2008 fiscal year:

President Albert Chavez, ID System Administrator ext. 2936
Vice-President Patricia Abrego, Director of Instructional Technology ext. 2302
Secretary Veronica Martinez, Director of Institutional Effectiveness & Planning ext. 2323
Treasurer Juan Cisneros, Assoc Director of Budget/Payroll/Grants & Contracts ext. 2373

The mission of the AAC is to act as advocate of the administrative staff of the University, examining and communicating matters that affect members, and formulating recommendations on such issues. Through monthly meetings, the AAC also serves as the means for administrative staff to remain abreast of all University administrative issues.

All administrative staff are encouraged to attend AAC meetings and take part in the group's activities. For more information and how you can participate, please contact one of the 2007-2008 AAC Officers listed above.



Register for Blue Access for Members!

BlueCross/BlueShield of Texas members can register for Blue Access® for Members which is an online interactive health and wellness tool, where members can:

  • take a health risk assessment,
  • get advice on how to start an exercise program,
  • start a weight loss or smoking cessation program, and
  • research specific medical conditions.

To register:

  • log in to www.bcbstx.com using information from your BlueCross/BlueShield of Texas ID Card,
  • click on Blue Access for Members, and
  • create a user ID and password to get instant, secure access.

If you have any questions, please contact Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363.


Deadline to Submit Claims to PayFlex is November 15, 2007

For those employees enrolled in a PayFlex flexible spending account, whether it's the Health Care or Dependent Day Care spending account, please keep in mind that the deadline to submit claims for expenses incurred 9/1/06 through 8/31/07 is November 15, 2007.  The date the service was rendered, not the date the bill was issued, determines whether the expense was incurred during the plan year.

For additional information, visit the PayFlex website or contact Gracy Buentello, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.


Voluntary Benefit Programs Now Available

As an employee or retiree of the A&M System, you are eligible to apply for voluntary benefits that may save you money on auto, home, boat, or other insurance. Voluntary benefit programs include:

  • auto/home insurance
  • pet insurance
  • identify theft protection
  • preferred mortgage program
  • online banking
  • real estate services
  • health insurance mart

For information, quotes, and customer service, go to the Voluntary Benefits website or call (866) 814-7516.

NOTE: These are voluntary benefit plans that The Texas A&M University System makes available to its employees and retirees through Marsh @WorkSolutions. The A&M System does not contribute to or endorse any policy or service offered under the program. If you choose to purchase any policies or services through PersonalPlans, your contract for coverages will be with each insurance company or plan provider, and your contact for policy servicing will be Marsh @WorkSolutions.

If you have questions, contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director of HR, at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.


Total Compensation Statements Available in November

In November, Total Compensation Statements for the 2007-2008 fiscal year will be distributed electronically to all employees. Employees will be notified by email when their statement is available on HRConnect. This statement, which employees receive every Fall, not only shows how much the A&M System gives you in the form of a paycheck, but it shows how much both you and the A&M System contribute toward your insurance benefits, retirement plans, and other employment-related programs.

If you have questions about your Total Compensation Statement, or if the information on your statement is incorrect, contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director of HR, at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.


IRS Announces Increases to Contribution/Compensation Limits

The following are the recent announcements made by the IRS concerning limitations for FY 2008:

  • The limit for contributions to defined contribution plans (ORP plus TDA) will increase from $45,000 to $46,000.
  • The elected deferrals (TDA and DCP) limit will stay at $15,500 (does not apply to ORP).
  • Over 50 Catch-up contributions will remain at $5,000.
  • The maximum compensation that can be used to determine annual ORP and TRS employee and employer contributions will increase from $225,000 to $230,000 (does not apply to individuals who first participated in Texas ORP or TRS before September 1, 1996).

For additional information about retirement plan contributions, please visit http://www.irs.gov/retirement /.  Or contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.


Medicare Premium and Deductible Increases Effective 1/1/08


The following are the recent announcements made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning deductibles and premiums for FY 2008:

  • Medicare Part A deductible will increase from $992.00 to $1,024.00 on January 1, 2008.
  • Medicare Part B deductible will increase from $131.00 to $135.00 and the monthly premium will change from $93.50 to $96.40 (for individual incomes below $82,000).  Those earning greater than $82,000 will pay a higher premium based on their income.
  • Medicare Part D deductible will change from $265 to $275, and the average monthly premium will change from $24 to $25 (premium will vary depending upon the type of coverage and insurer sponsoring the Part D Plan).

For information on Medicare coverage, premiums, and deductibles, visit www.medicare.gov/ .   Or, as always, do not hesitate to call the HR Office at ext. 2365.


Welcome, New Employees!!
  Pamela A. Bowden, Assistant Coach (Women's Basketball)
Athletics Department
KCB 114 ext. 2900
  Ricky Lee Dobbins, Coach (Women's Softball)
Athletics Department
KCB 114 ext. 2900
  Jose A. Arredondo, Campus Security Assistant
University Police Department
KL 005 ext. 2100
  Victor M. Manrique, Coaching Assistant (Women's Soccer) KCB 107 ext. 2891
  Athletics Department    
  Carmen Roman-Shriver, Associate Professor/Dir of Dietetic Program KL 315B ext. 2446
  Department of Biology & Chemistry    
  Petra Vela, Office Coordinator KCB 107 ext. 3000
  Athletics Department    
  Amanda Mills, Staff Assistant KL 329 ext. 2240
  Provost & VPAA    
  Elizabeth Dodier, Nurse (RN) SC 125 ext. 2235
  Student Health Services    
  Teresa Y. Chapa-Cantu, Director of Student Relations SC 114 ext. 2262
  Career Services    
  Veronica A. Gonzalez, Director of Alumni Relations KL 262A ext. 2171
  Office of Institutional Advancement    
  Stephanie L. Alderete, Staff Assistant KL 432 ext. 2435
  Dept. of Teacher Preparation    
  Linda M. Garay, Grant Resources Support Assistant KL 332 ext. 3025
  Graduate Studies and Research    
  Jose L. Vasquez, Half-Time Associate Director (E3 Program) KL 427B ext. 2692
  Dept. of Teacher Preparation    
  Andres I. Jaime, Director of Employer Relations SC 114 ext. 2264
  Career Services    
  Ricardo Mora Jr., Police Officer KL 005 ext. 2100
  University Police Department    

Diana Linn KL 421C ext. 2677
FROM: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Teacher Preparation    
TO: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Professional Programs    
Gilda J. Cornejo KL 168 ext. 2203
FROM: Staff Assistant, University Registrar    
TO: Degree Audit Assistant, University Registrar    
I. Karina Moreno KL 158E ext. 2214
FROM: Financial Aid Counselor, Financial Aid    
TO: Coordinator of Compliance, Financial Aid    
Rebecca A. Garza KL 168 ext. 2247
FROM: Degree Audit Assistant, University Registrar    
TO: Coordinator of Compliance, University Registrar    
Jorge Aviles KL 203 ext. 2130
FROM: Part-Time Lab Assistant, Killiam Library (Computer Services)    
TO: Senior Lab Assistant, Killiam Library (Computer Services)    
Aaron Garza CH 203 ext. 3008
FROM: Coaching Assistant (Men's Basketball), Athletics Department    
TO: Visiting Coach (Men's Golf & Men's Basketball) Athletics Department    

  Juan L. Sanchez, Senior IT Support Specialist
  Jaime Peryam, AT3P Recruiter
  Crystal D. Martinez, Outreach & Retention Specialist
  Recruitment and School Relations
  Jaime J. Castro, Police Officer
  University Police Department
  Maribel R. Juarez, Staff Assistant
  Dept. of Language and Literature
  Yesmin D. Salazar, Office Coordinator
  Jessica Hinojosa, Outreach and Retention Specialist
  Special Programs (CAMP)

  Combining Holidays with Other Leave

When holidays fall in the work schedule, many employees like to take an extra day or more off to have a longer break or to prepare for holiday guests. In most cases, this is not a problem, but it can result in a loss of holiday pay when done incorrectly.

To be paid for a holiday, an employee must work or be in a paid leave status on the last workday before the holiday. For the Christmas/New Year break, employees are paid for the December holidays only if they are in a paid status the day before the break begins. Also, employees must be in a paid status on the first workday in January to be paid for the January portion of the break.

This means that employees who use vacation to extend a holiday or who are ill and on paid sick leave immediately before a holiday will be paid for the holiday. However, employees who take leave without pay for any reason immediately before the holiday (or immediately after the New Year holiday) will not be paid for the holiday.

Budgeted employees are eligible for holiday pay if they work 20 or more hours a week for at least four and a half months. Student workers and employees paid on wages are not eligible for holiday pay.

If you have questions about holidays, review System Policy 31.04 (Holidays) and System Regulation 31.04.01 (System Holidays), which can be accessed at http://tamus.edu/offices/policy/policies/index.html. If you have additional questions regarding holidays and/or leave, please contact Xochitl Kladis, HR Assistant, at ext. 2364.


Updating Your HR Files...Beneficiary Designations


Significant events such as marriage, divorce, death of a beneficiary, and the birth of a child, should prompt employees to review their beneficiary designations.

If you are enrolled in any of the following: Basic Life Insurance, Alternate Basic Life Insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, the Teacher Retirement System; and you experience a significant event, you should immediately notify the HR Office to review and make any necessary changes to your beneficiary designations.

If you are enrolled in the Optional Retirement Program and you experience a significant event, you should contact your respective vendor to review and make any necessary changes to your beneficiary designations.

Please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363 if you have any questions or need assistance.


  Fraud Notification

When A&M System employees have information about dishonest, unethical, or criminal activities that might affect any A&M System member, it is their responsibility to report that information to the A&M System Internal Audit Department. These activities include, but are not limited to, theft, corruption, misuse of System vehicles and/or equipment, and conflicts of interest. Examples of reportable activities are:

  • Taking university property home and using it for personal use
  • Stealing or borrowing money
  • Driving a university vehicle to run personal errands
  • Using a university credit card to buy personal items

To report dishonest, unethical, or criminal activities, contact the System Internal Audit Department at 1-800-501-3850, 1-979-458-7100, or visit their website at www.tamus.edu/offices/iaudit. Information can also be mailed to the Texas A&M University System Internal Audit Department, 1200 TAMU, College Station , TX 77843-1200 . All reports are anonymous.


  Nepotism Policy
At this time, supervisors are reminded about the System Policy on nepotism, which prohibits an employee from hiring or supervising a relative. For example, employees may want to hire their children as help during a school break. However, while their children may be employed in positions on campus, they may not be hired or supervised (directly or indirectly) by their parents.

The System Policy on nepotism can be found on the web at http://sago.tamu.edu/policy/33-03.htm. If you have any questions about nepotism, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.

University Sick Leave Pool

The University Sick Leave Pool was established to alleviate hardship caused to an employee and the employee's family if a catastrophic illness or injury forces the employee to exhaust all leave time earned by the employee and lose compensation. At that time, an employee may request to draw time from the University Sick Leave Pool in order to remain in pay status.

Employees may contribute to the University Sick Leave Pool at any time. Anyone wishing to contribute, or if you have questions about the University Sick Leave Pool, please contact Xochitl Kladis at ext. 2364.


Family/Medical Leave: Usage and Obligations

If you have at least 12 months of state service and have worked for the state at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, you are entitled to 12 weeks of Family/Medical Leave per fiscal year. If you request leave (whether sick leave, annual leave, or other paid or unpaid leave) due to one of the following reasons, the leave will count toward your Family/Medical Leave entitlement for the fiscal year:

  • Birth of a child
  • Placement in your home of a child for adoption or state-certified foster care
  • Your serious health condition (illness, injury, or pregnancy)
  • To care for your spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
If you are applying for sick leave for one of these reasons, you must use all available paid leave before taking unpaid leave. Additionally, you must have your treating physician complete a Medical Certification Form (available from the HR Office) and submit it with your leave request.

While you are on paid leave, your benefit coverages will continue, and any premiums you normally pay for will be deducted from your pay. If you go on unpaid leave for one of the reasons stated above, the State will continue to pay its contribution toward your health coverage; however, you must continue to pay your share of premiums. Failure to do so may end some or all of your benefits coverages. You will receive a bill for your share of the premiums each month while you are on leave, and the bill must be paid within 30 days.

It is your responsibility to check in with your supervisor every 2 weeks while on leave to inform him/her of your status and expected date of return. It is also your responsibility to inform the HR Office if you would like to add a dependent to your coverage. This must be done within 60 days of the birth, adoption, etc. of the dependent.

If you take leave for one of the reasons stated above, you will be reinstated to your job or a similar job when you return from leave, unless you would not otherwise have been employed at that time.

If you have any questions about Family/Medical Leave, please contact Xochitl Kladis at ext. 2364.

  Employees Must Obtain Approval to Engage in External Employment and Consulting
System Regulation 31.05.02 - External Employment states that if a System employee plans to engage in outside/external employment in addition to working in his/her primary University position, the employee must obtain approval for such employment using the "External Employment and Consulting Application and Approval Form." This form is available online from the HR website at under FORMS. Upon obtaining approval from the supervisor(s) and appropriate VP, the form must be routed to the HR Office for proper filing. IMPORTANT: A new form must be completed at the beginning of each fiscal year.

The regulation mentioned above also governs all external employment by faculty members that is not directly related to their professional discipline. (NOTE: Faculty engaged in consulting is covered by System Regulation 31.05.01 - Faculty Consulting, External Employment and Conflicts of Interest).

If you have any questions regarding outside/external employment, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.

  Reminder About Bringing Children to the Workplace

It is the responsibility of University supervisors to ensure that work is accomplished in an environment in which employee health/safety is respected and there is minimal disruption to the workflow and work activities. System Policy 24.01 Risk Management, Section 2, states that "it is the objective of The Texas A&M University System to manage, control, and where appropriate reduce or eliminate risk, to the end that its employees, students and visitors are protected from hazards, its financial condition is not seriously jeopardized, and its material and natural resources conserved to the maximum extent possible and practicable."

The workplace is not an appropriate place for children on a regular, ongoing basis for the following primary reasons:

  • Children in the workplace create a potential liability for the department and the University.
  • Children in the workplace disrupt the workplace both for the employee with the child and for others in the work unit.
  • Children in the workplace create an atmosphere that many feel is unprofessional both to employees and visitors.

A plan for managing emergency child care services is recommended for parents/guardians in order to avoid bringing dependents into the workplace. If there are no other alternatives, the employee should get approval from their supervisor prior to bringing the child to the workplace. However, the child should not be in the workplace longer than 1-2 hours.

Special occasions that are employer-sanctioned (i.e., "Take Your Kids to Work Day") should be coordinated with and approved by the employee's supervisor. The employee's schedule for that day should take into consideration the child's presence in order to eliminate unnecessary hazards.

When considering such requests, the supervisor should contact the HR Office at ext. 2365 with any questions or concerns.


  Online Training Available for Employees

The System Human Resources Office has developed online training modules for employees. The training modules currently available are:

  • Conducting Effective Interviews
  • Creating A Discrimination-Free Workplace (also available in Spanish)
  • Ethics (also available in Spanish)
  • Information Security Awareness
  • Managing Employee Performance
  • Management Overview for New Supervisors
  • Orientation to the A&M System
  • Position Descriptions
  • Positive Management of Performance Problems
  • Problem-Solving for Supervisors
  • Reporting Fraud, Waste and Abuse
  • Sexual Harrassment: What Supervisors Need To Know
  • Time Off Issues for Employees
  • Time Off Issues for Supervisors

To access the training modules, simply log on to Single Sign On, choose HRConnect, click on the TRAINING tab, and follow the directions.

If you need assistance with the online training modules, please call the HR Office at ext. 2365.


Getting to Know U!

Andres Rivas



Mika Akikuni is the Associate Director of Marketing for TAMIU. She has been with the University for 10 years. Her hobbies include traveling, music appreciation as well as entertainment PR. She is currently in charge of the Texas public relations for the movie "White Rainbow." Mika enjoys spending time with her son, Kwazar, as well as reading various novels and books on astronomy, Hinduism, Buddhism, yoga, and spirituality. She also enjoys getting together with friends for carnes asadas, gourmet food, and good times.




TAMIU, we want to get to know you! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself, and we will feature it along with a photo in this section of the newsletter. Submit your information to Xochitl Kladis via email or at ext. 2364.

Who is This?  

The first person to email the HR Office and correctly identify this TAMIU employee by name and title will win a prize!

The identity of the employee who appeared in the last issue of HR News & Views can be found in "The Answer Corner" section of this newsletter!

The Answer Corner
The following are frequently-asked questions received in the HR Office. To ask us questions, use the "Ask HR" button on this newsletter.


Who was the baby in the "Who is This?" section of the last issue of "HR News & View"?


That was Mario A. Peña, Director of Web & Student Information Services in OIT. TAMIU employees who wish to submit their picture for the "Who is This?" section may contact the HR Office via email or at ext. 2365.


Why have I not received my pay check deposit on my TAMIU debit card?


If you choose to use the TAMIU debit card (OneAccount) to direct deposit your paycheck, and if it is your first deposit into the account, you must wait up to 2 business days to have access to funds. To avoid this delay, just make a small deposit to your account prior to receiving your first paycheck.

That Extra (S)Mile!
This section describes the deeds of TAMIU employees who have been observed going the "extra mile" for our University.

We had such wonderful employee volunteers from all TAMIU departments. Thank you to everyone who volunteered at AutMus Fest and made it a fun success!


Thank you to everyone at TAMIU for making Laredo College and Career Night a success on October 10, 2007.  The event brought more than 2,000 high school students and parents to campus.  Special thanks to the Student Center, Public Relations, Aramark, Admissions, Financial Aid, OIT, Physical Plant, Dr. Grayson, University Housing, Student Ambassadors, University Police, and the staff and student workers of Recruitment and School Relations. 

Once again, thank you for your support and dedication to TAMIU and the community.

If you know of any employee performing in such a way that deserves mention in this column, send their name and details of their deeds to the HR Office via email.

Phone: 956.326.2365
Fax: 956.326.2359
Location: Killam Library 320